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I guess the subject says it...

I have a German version of Vista Ultimate installed and would like to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate, but the German version of Windows 7 is not out yet. A clean install is out of the question.

Is there still a way (in other words, hack) I can upgrade without waiting until October?

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There will not be a different version of Windows 7 Ultimate in German.

The reason why I'm saying that is that Windows 7 Ultimate (as well as Windows Vista Ultimate) comes with the ability to switch the language after the installation using language packs. All you have to do is install the English distribution and then install the language pack with the language of your choice (a German language back is available already for Windows 7). File wise, both the English version and the German version has the exact same file signatures.

That being said, you can upgrade to Windows 7 using the normal upgrade route whether your Windows Vista is in English or not since your Windows Vista Ultimate in German is just the English version with the language pack installed. Before upgrading, open the Change display language item in the Control Panel and switch your display language back to English. Then switch to the Administrative tab, and use the Copy Settings button to copy the language setting to the SYSTEM and DEFAULT accounts. Windows 7 will then proceed to upgrade without complaining.

You might need to install the language pack after, which is on a separate DVD marked as Windows 7 Language Pack (x86) - DVD (Multiple Languages) (or Windows 7 Language Pack (x64) - DVD (Multiple Languages) for 64-bit) in your MSDN Downloads.

Edit: After verification, MSDN also provides a DVD of Windows 7 Ultimate with the German language pack already installed, marked as Windows 7 Ultimate (x86) - DVD (German) (or Windows 7 Ultimate (x64) - DVD (German) for 64-bit). Then again, the only difference between the German and the English version is the fact that the German download has the language pack slipstreamed in the disk.

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Even if you can switch languages you can't upgrade with another language. Languages have to be the same during the upgrade or it won't give you the upgrade option at all. –  Pär Björklund Aug 20 '09 at 8:22
    
+1 I was just logging into MSDN to confirm, but I know I saw it come through in the last few days. –  Diago Aug 20 '09 at 8:22
    
@Pär Björklund: Before upgrading, open the Change display language item in the Control Panel and switch your display language back to English. Then switch to the Administrative tab, and use the Copy Settings button to copy the language setting to the SYSTEM and DEFAULT accounts. Windows 7 will then proceed to upgrade without complaining. –  Andrew Moore Aug 20 '09 at 8:32
    
This is weird... My MSDN account does offer Windows 7 German for download yet, nor a language pack. Just the english version. And it does offer Vista German. Anyway, thanks for the advice, I'll try upgrading this evening. –  Adrian Grigore Aug 20 '09 at 9:07
    
Unfortunately there is no "Change display language" item in my Control panel. I can change the country or region, keyboard layout and time / date / floats formatting, but not the interface language. I assume there is no english language pack installed, so I got the Vista langauge pack from MSDN, but it only contains lp.cab files, no installer, so It must be for slipstreaming the installation CD. I tried installing the Language packs via Windodows update, but these are not offered to me as available update. Looks like I am stuck... –  Adrian Grigore Aug 20 '09 at 22:08
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I'm not sure if the German version is supported, but Scott Hanselman wrote an excellent blog on upgrading XP to Windows 7 that might work for Vista: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/StepByStepHowToUpgradeFromWindowsXPToWindows7.aspx

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Unfortunately his article does not apply in my case. There is no real upgrade from XP to Windows 7 - Just a clean install plus usage of Easy Transfer to copy some windows settings, user documents, pictures, etc. Installed applications are not transferred and have to be re-installed. That's what I am trying to avoid. –  Adrian Grigore Aug 20 '09 at 8:08
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